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Water supply and fluoride

Enquiring minds want to know, is fluoride added to Munich's water supply? Well, TT can now provide the definitive answer. No. Fluoride is not added. Eighty percent of Munich's water comes from the river Mangfall. This water contains a natural fluoride concentration of 0.24 milligrammes per litre. For purposes of dental health the World Health Organisation defines the optimum water fluoride concentration as 1.5 milligrammes per litre. Although Munich's water falls well below this level, no fluoride is added. The main reasons are: i) fluoride is considered an environmental pollutant, ii) citizens have the right to make their own choices regarding fluoride consumption. They shouldn't be forced into mass medication by the government. This is in-line with water fluoridation policy across most of Europe. ...

Children in Munich are often prescribed fluoride by their doctors. The purpose of this is to make up for the fluoride deficiency in the local water supply. Although Fluoride prevents tooth decay, too much of it is actually hazardous. Children in particular should not drink water that contains more than 2 mg/l of fluoride. By doing so they risk dental fluorosis (the disruption of tooth enamel development). In excess of 4 mg/L can cause bone disease, kidney problems, and even brain damage. It has been suggested that there is no fluoride in German toothpaste. But a standard tube from the local Penny Markt clearly shows there is (see image above). Brushing the teeth twice daily with such toothpaste should more than compensate for the lack of fluoride in the water.

Eighty percent of Munich's water supply comes from the river Mangfall, not the Isar as you might expect. The Mangfall is a short river, about 60km long. It's source is the lake Tegernsee, at the foot of the Alps. From there the Mangfall flows north to Holzkirchen, then East into the river Inn at Rosenheim. The Inn flows into the Danube at Passau which in turn drains into the Black Sea. The closest the Mangfall gets to Munich is at Holzkirchen. So Stadtwerk München carries the water the remaining 45km to the city. A massive 320 million litres are transported per day.

This water is basically untreated. No Fluoride is added. Normally no Chlorine is added either. Chlorine is only used when bacteria get into the water and pose a health risk. This can happen, for example, during extreme flooding. It happens rarely though. In 2000 and 2001 there wasn't a single day when Chlorine was added.

For more details, in German, see Wasser Muenchen

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